In The News

Study shows tropical forests are carbon sinks, absorb more CO2 than thought

Tropical forests are said to be the lungs of the planet, breathing in what we humans breathe out. But the scale of these forests means that, even though they take in lots of carbon dioxide, they also emit lots of the gas in their own right through fires and human-caused deforestation. And so the question is: Are tropical forests, like the massive Amazon, net carbon sinks or sources? Scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research set up an analysis to find out. Their work relied on combining data from across scientific fields as they tried to ascertain tropical forests’ role in global carbon dioxide levels from the activities of single trees up to global cycles that impact the whole planet.

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EPA faces lawsuit for not requiring fracking chemicals to be named

Nine environmental groups are suing the EPA for not requiring oil and gas drilling companies to report the names of key hazardous fracking chemicals into the publicly accessible Toxic Release Inventory Database, according to a report from the Bloomberg news service . The groups accusing the EPA of negligence believe that although the agency had the authority to force oil and gas companies to reveal what hazardous chemicals they are using in fracking, it has instead relied on those industries’ self-reporting. It is also possible for oil and gas companies under current requirements to claim that chemicals used are trade secrets and thus do not have to be revealed to the public.

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Cool water from internal waves can protect corals during heat stress

Corals are sensitive organisms; even minor increases in temperature can harm the photosynthetic algae living inside, prompting the host coral to reject the symbiotes. A new study in the Andaman Sea, site of largest coral bleaching incident to date, shows that internal waves can protect coral reefs with an influx of cool water, according to a GEOMAR press release . Large-amplitude internal waves travel along the thermocline separating the oceans’ warmer upper layer from cooler deep water. Upon hitting the continental shelf, these waves can break and bring cooler water to shallower regions where coral reefs form. Low temperatures usually have a negative impact on coral, but during times of heat stress, the cooler water is beneficial to the organisms.

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